Making 'Em Move: A History of Animation
September 2 - November 28
From September 2 through November 28, we offer a series of thirteen programs entitled Making 'Em Move: A History of Animation, with weekly Tuesday lectures by renowned film historian Donald Crafton, Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, and author of "Before Mickey" and "Shadow of a Mouse." The series is presented in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.
— Martin Rubin, Associate Director of Programming
We live in an animated world. Robotic devices fly through the air, manufacture things, and clean our homes. Doctors inject bots into our bodies, apparently moving on their own accord to deliver their medicinal payload. Images in synthesized motion paper our buildings, billboards, arenas, and, of course, our personal screens. We carry animation in our pockets and purses, wear it on our wrists. This series will explore the 20th-century foundations of the present day’s omnianimation that were established in the medium of theatrical entertainment films. The feature films screened offer the possibility of analyzing animation as a technology, as an industrial practice, as a cultural signifier, and as a still-evolving genre — Hollywood and global, aimed at adults as well as for children.
— Donald Crafton, Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame
Admission to all Making 'Em Move programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.
Additional screenings of the films on Friday or Saturday do not include Prof. Crafton’s lecture.
The Good Dinosaur
2015, Peter Sohn, USA, 93 min. With Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright.
"Antic and unexpected as well as homiletic, rife with subversive elements, wacky critters and some of the most beautiful landscapes ever seen in a computer animated film." — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Overshadowed by the massive success of Pixar's previous release, INSIDE OUT, Sohn's remarkable directing debut deserves wider recognition. The story takes place in an alternative-history world where dinosaurs have evolved into intelligent creatures capable of speech and farming, while humans are still grunting savages. A cowardly young Apatosaur named Arlo (Ochoa) must prove his mettle in the course of a rite-of-passage journey, accompanied by a puppy-like human boy he calls Spot. Set in jaw-dropping landscapes resembling the American West, the film pushes its exquisitely rendered photorealism to the brink of lyricism and beyond, achieving an animistic splendor that recalls Disney's 1937 classic THE OLD MILL. DCP digital widescreen. (MR)
1940, Hamilton Luske and Ben Sharpsteen, USA, 88 min. With Dickie Jones, Cliff Edwards.
"Was there ever a scarier, more exciting animated feature than PINOCCHIO?...The movie is genuinely exciting and romantic, great to look at, and timeless." — Roger Ebert
Disney's second animated feature did not match the commercial success of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, but many now consider it to be the peak production of Disney's golden period, as well as the one that left the most indelible impression on the minds of the children who saw it. Based loosely on Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel, the story's motivating event of a lonely woodworker who wishes that his marionette could become a living boy is often read as an allegory for the Promethean art of animation itself. Like many memorable fairy tales, PINOCCHIO is at times frightening and even a bit kinky, as the naïve puppet-boy is initiated into a deceitful world filled with alluring temptations and fearful punishments. 35mm print courtesy of The Walt Disney Company. (MR)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed
Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed
1926, Lotte Reiniger, Germany, 67 min.
"A nifty precursor to PRINCESS MONONOKE...ACHMED has the scary symmetry of a Rorschach test and the strange eroticism typically reserved for the Valentino silents of that era.” — Wesley Morris, San Francisco Examiner.
This enchanting, beautifully color-tinted Arabian Nights fantasy is often cited as the first animated feature film, made eleven years before Disney’s SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. Lotte Reiniger's trademark silhouette-animation techniques, together with gorgeous filigreed set and costume design, embellish the exotic tale of an Arabian prince, an evil sorcerer, a flying horse, and a captured princess. Silent film with recorded orchestration of the original 1926 score by Wolfgang Zeller. DCP digital. (MR)
It's Such A Beautiful Day
2012, Don Hertzfeldt, USA, 62 min.
“The story, music, figures, and optical effects have been brought into perfect alignment… for a long time afterward, a sense of wonder for everyday life lingers.” — J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
Cult animator Hertzfeldt labored for over ten years on his magnum opus, aka the “Bill Trilogy.” Consisting of three parts ("Everything Will Be OK," "I Am So Proud of You," "It's Such a Beautiful Day"), its dark-edged comedy has drawn comparisons to Buster Keaton, Charles M. Schulz, and Edward Gorey. The story follows Hertzfeldt’s stick-figure everyman Bill through an existential gauntlet of anxiety, illness, and psychosis. ProRes digital.
Preceded by WORLD OF TOMORROW (2015, USA, 17 min.), Hertzfeldt’s Oscar-nominated sci-fi saga of a little girl who is visited by her despondent nth-generation clone. DCP digital. (MR)
1995, Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay, UK/Germany, 105 min. With Mark Rylance, Alice Krige.
"A triumph of the surreal, a masterwork of fantasy, and a breathtakingly tenebrous walk off the beaten path and into the dark, pulsing forest of dreams." — Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
The US-born, UK-based identical twins known as the Brothers Quay made their reputations with a series of elusive, eerily beautiful stop-motion animations that imbued objects and puppet figures with uncanny vitality. INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA was their first feature-length film and their first live-action film with human actors, but what is remarkable is how closely it resembles their previous works, subtly eroding the boundary between the animate and the inanimate. Based on a 1909 novella by Swiss writer Robert Walser and photographed in gauzy, shimmering black-and-white, it centers on a young man (Rylance) who enrolls in a Germanic school for training servants through a series of bizarre, repetitive exercises designed to instill perfect subservience. Filled with odd exhibits, contraptions, and rituals, it could also be an enchanted castle, complete with a fairy-tale princess in the form of the demanding yet vulnerable Lisa (Krige), sister of the Institute's unhinged headmaster (Gottfried John). In English and German with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
Něco z Alenky
1988, Jan Švankmajer, Czech Republic/Switzerland/UK, 85 min. With Kristyna Kohoutova.
“Strips 'Alice' to its proto-surrealist core…magical.” — Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper
Curiosity, terror, vengeance, and surrealism infuse this haunted adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic. Švankmajer strips away the cuteness that has marked other adaptations, to create a twisted fantasy of obsession, a delicious, convoluted, goose-bump-raising nightmare. A shabby animal pelt comes to eerie life as the cunning, bright-eyed White Rabbit, portrayed as an adversary and mastermind rather than a mere guide. Alice is not a victim but a pragmatic little adventurer who can gamely come to terms with an aggressive rat in a blue velvet suit or kick the stuffing out of an offending toy. In English. ProRes digital. (BS)
Waltz With Bashir
ואלס עם באשיר
2008, Ari Folman, Israel/France/Germany, 90 min.
“Not only unique but exemplary, a work of astonishing aesthetic integrity and searing
moral power.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
A search for obscured history is at the core of director Folman’s Oscar-nominated and crushingly powerful animated memoir of Israel’s 1982 Lebanon war, a film that redefines the term guilt trip as a mind-blowing journey to the acceptance of personal responsibility within a vast sea of collective blame. Utilizing starkly evocative animation, lurid colors, and ironically pounding pop tunes, the now middle-aged director depicts fantasies, recurring nightmares, interviews, and flashbacks in order to plumb the source of the mysterious amnesia that surrounds the passive complicity of his Israeli army unit in the horrific massacre of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. In Hebrew, Arabic, German, and English with English subtitles. 35mm. (BS)
2007, Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud, France, 96 min. With Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux.
"Full of warmth and surprise, alive with humor and a fierce independence of spirit." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
Based on screenwriter/co-director Satrapi's bestselling illustrated memoir (which she prefers to call a comic book rather than a graphic novel), this Oscar nominee is the story of both an individual and a country. The individual in question is Satrapi herself, recalling her girlhood and young adulthood growing up in Iran as it moves from the tyranny of monarchy to the tyranny of theocracy, with an interim of exile in Vienna, which the rebellious girl finds equally oppressive in its own way. The film uses humor and irony rather than indignation to tell its story, along with richly textured black-and-white images that brilliantly bridge the worlds of drawing and animation. In French with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)
2014, Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi, USA, 96 min. With Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning.
"Gloriously inventive, wonderfully funny, and gorgeous to look at." — Sheila O'Malley, RogerEbert.com
The Oregon-based Laika company (CORALINE, PARANORMAN, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS) has forged one of the most distinctive styles in contemporary animation, combining meticulous, tactile stop-motion animation with offbeat stories that, in the tradition of Roald Dahl, aren't afraid to venture into the edgy and the macabre. THE BOXTROLLS is Laika's most elaborate and ambitious film to date, crammed with imaginative detail. Elements of steampunk, slapstick, Victorian gaslight melodrama, and German expressionism are applied to a politically resonant story set in the class-stratified town of Cheesebridge, where a ghoulish striver (Kingsley) schemes to crash the upper echelon of cheese-eating snobs by demonizing a subterranean race of harmless monsters. DCP digital. (MR)
2010, Sylvain Chomet, France, 80 min.
"Chomet creates a wonderful cartoon version of Tati." — J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
An Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature, Chomet's eagerly awaited follow-up to THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE is based on an unproduced screenplay by Jacques Tati. Chomet does justice to Tati's subtle long-shot style while putting his own imaginative stamp on the witty and wistful tale of an itinerant magician (drawn to resemble the spindly, shambling Tati) and the Scottish orphan girl who tags along with him. Set in the early 1960s and rendered in beautiful hand-drawn 2-D, THE ILLUSIONIST marvelously evokes the rainy, hilly cityscapes of Edinburgh and the shabby but still magical world of music hall. In English, French, and Gaelic (but virtually dialogue-free). 35mm. (MR)